I been thinking a lot about depression these days. Partly because the sad ends of because of the sad ends of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain shined a spotlight on the topic and partly because Leslie Kelly and I are giving a talk on Battling Writing Demons at RWA2018 in Denver. As a result, my desk is littered with articles on writers and mental illness.
Make no mistake. Depression is a mental illness.
Those of us who live with it will tell you that chronic depression follows us like a shadow. It is always lurking, waiting to wrap us in darkness. Keeping the shadow at bay is a constant battle. Medication and therapy help, but we have to remain diligent in using the tools we’ve learned. Grow complacent and the shadow will slip past your defenses.
Sorry if that sounds dramatic. Depression, however, liar that it is, feels dramatic. It takes all your negative thoughts and magnifies them. Small problems feel huge. Small flaws become ugly gaping crevices that can never be fixed.
The funny thing is, for all its dramatic trappings, depression is often invisible. After the tragedies of last week, there was a lot of talk about the warning signs of suicide. As important as that is, it’s also important to note that a lot of suffers don’t get to the point of suicide. In fact, you many not even know we have depression. We get up every morning, and go about our day. We carry on with a smile and friendly conversation with nary a mention of the negative thoughts racing through our head. Only our closest of friends might get a note hinting at the darkness.
Why am I mentioning all of this?
Because I think it’s important for those of us fighting the battle speak up. So that others know they aren’t alone. Shadows fade in the light. The more we speak up – the more we support one another – the brighter the light. It’s time to stop treating depression as something that’s dealt with alone in our rooms.
If you’re a writer plan on attending the RWA Annual Conference in Denver, I hope you’ll attend Slaying the Mental Demons on Thursday morning. Leslie and I are planning a very candid discussion about writing and mental illness, including a look at why writers are so prone to mental illness, and what we can do to help one another.
In the meantime, have a wonderful week. Seek out the sunshine and enjoy!